FAA chief hopeful for unity



WASHINGTON (AP)—The new head of the Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday he hopes he can unite Chicago, Illinois and Indiana in support of a regional airport.

But Chicago and Indiana remain opposed to a plan for a third Chicago-area airport near Peotone, a site favored by Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar.

The FAA is reviewing a last-minute Bush administration grant of $2 million for a planning study of the site.

The FAA has said repeatedly that it will not spend money on a third Chicago-area airport without consensus among the three political groups.

‘‘We do not have that,’‘ said David Hinson, the new FAA administrator. ‘‘That doesn’t mean we won’t get it done. I’m optimistic that I can get all the parties back together and I’m going to try to do that.’‘

Illinois, Indiana and Chicago appeared last year to have settled on Lake Calumet on Chicago’s South Side. But the Illinois General Assembly did not approve the plan. Edgar then suggested a scaled-down airport at Peotone.

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, who pushed for Lake Calumet, criticized Edgar for not delivering enough votes in Springfield and said he has given up on a third airport.

The city will not support an airport at Peotone, said Robert Repel, Chicago’s deputy aviation commissioner.

‘‘We’re concentrating on our existing airport system’‘ of O’Hare International and Midway airports, Repel said.

Indiana Gov. Evan Bayh, who supported a site in Gary, Ind., after the Lake Calumet plan collapsed, sees no sign of a regional consensus and wants an airport built in an urban area, said spokesman David Dawson.

Illinois intends to win regional consensus for the Peotone site, state Transportation Secretary Kirk Brown has said.

Hinson said a third airport is needed.

‘‘We want more capacity and I think that neighborhood needs more capacity. How we get it is what this is all about,’‘ Hinson said. ‘‘It’s part of the process, trying to get everybody going in the same direction.’‘